|Type of paper:||Book review|
|Categories:||Gender Feminism Social issue Books|
"The Feminine Mystic," is a non-fiction book written by Betty Friedan, was meant to encourage women of all races and ages to come together to uncover the truth behind women's problems with their decedent housewife roles. The challenge was to create the self-determination of women and the liberation of the status quo of society. In all of his writings, Friedan expressed a series of emotions that demonstrated the injustice of women in the 1960s. The writings of "Feminist Mysticism" formed the basis of the women's liberation movement and inspired the truth about the hidden secrets that women did not find. The general message was to show that female mysticism deprives women of their identity and their ability to do more than playing the part of a housewife.
Themes from book
The main theme of "The Feminine Mystique," is that it prevents women from developing a full and genuine identity. When the book focusses on mysticism, it is visible that women are subjected to social stereotypes whereby they are prompted to leave their education and focus on raising their families. The general notion s that: although women can go to university, they should not use their studies. Instead, they go to university to find a husband (Friedan, 125). Friedan explains that the routine and repetitive home activities that women do at home, in the end, are not necessary or challenging enough to give these women a good sense of purpose and identity.
Another central theme that Friedan (1963) identifies in her work is the tension between the claims of "mystical" feminism and the idea that a woman's identity is based on her biology, her reproductive and family roles, and her demands for development. Friedan argues that the identity of women traps feminism development as a result of "mysticism" and not only impacts women, but also families, children, and society at large. Friedan (1963) uses the content analysis of popular women's magazines to examine how the media explains the social role of women as wives and mothers. According to her, in the decade following World War II, the image of the "ideal woman" in the media has shifted from an active, independent worker to someone who has only the flourishing of home and family. Friedan (1963) reports that a generation of women who internalized this "happy housewife" ideology and now try to "find all the basic meanings of life" at home were easy goals for advertisers who wanted to create a new home identity through the acquisition of consumer goods (Friedan, 127).
Friedan (1963) writes, in addition to the media and advertising, that the abolition of "mysticism" is transmitted by social and educational agents who should be the ones against the conventional female stereotypes (Friedan, 167). One of the examples is where Friedan critiques the ideology fronted by Margaret Mead and Sigmund Freud that anatomy is the destiny and the identity of women, are determined by their biology" Friedan, 136). The fact that the two were prominent scholars led the ideology being accepted among the scientific community thus could not be denied by other women (Friedan, 194). Friedan (1963) also criticizes the change in women's education after World War II whereby women are increasingly distant from academic interests that could lead to meaningful careers in focus of other courses that emphasized on taking care of families and focusing on maintaining their homes (Friedan, 127).
Gender roles and the expectations of society are at the center of female mysticism. The gender role that defines the 1950s and 1960s is female mysticism, an idealized version of domestic femininity that all women must satisfy. Friedan argues that this popular conception of femininity is closely related to the biology of women and confuses the detriment of the role of women and mothers in the vanguard of femininity. According to Friedan, women's mysticism gained false credibility through the work of Freud and functionalist Margaret Mead, who gave considerable scientific weight to the idea that the social role of women is determined by their biological function.
Friedan acknowledged that roles are extremely difficult to challenge and are directed against the revolutionary feminists of the nineteenth century (Friedan, 136). Although most of these women were successfully married, opponents described them as men who hate men, a position that, after forty years, continued to deny women travel. Friedan notes that women who question female mysticism, advanced or not, face a harsh social response. Like the feminists of the nineteenth century, the women of 1963 are quickly ridiculed trying to "stand up" against men. From an early age, girls learn that it is not attractive or feminine to strive for personal growth, as a man does. Friedan emphasizes quickly that social conditioning is not only harmful to women but also men.
In a society in which gender roles are well defined, men support not only the workload but also the total emotional dependence of their wives. The housewife is forced to live with her husband and children. These relationships can become more and more toxic as the woman grows up to deal with her family, which she is the only one who can afford. Meanwhile, her husband and children are frustrated by their mother's dominant presence at home. Finally, Friedan concludes that women and men can participate in healthy and mutually beneficial relationships when the rigid gender roles created by female mysticism are reduced.
Author's point of view
Betty Friedan believes that feminine mysticism is a problem that is yet to be tackled in America. Friedan believes that women have been struggling with this issue alone over the years and it is difficult for them to address the issues freely. The author pities women of the 20th century based on the fact that during their growth, they are conditioned to raise their families and not focus on their families.
The author, however, maintains a conservative view stating that having a woman who is dominant within the family may disrupt the functioning of the family structure. The author's stance is that a balance should be maintained whereby women's rights should be recognized while patriarchy is maintained within the family. The author's views are in a positive direction whereby feminism ideologies can be appreciated within the society.
The book sheds light on some of the social injustices that continue to affect women especially when it comes to their identity. Women continue to be stereotyped especially when it comes to their role in society. One of the lessons learned from the book that I will remember in the future is the need for a collective bargain whereby women's rights are respected in the society while maintaining a conservative ideology within the society.
Friedan, Betty. "The Feminine Mystique. 1963." New York (2001).
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